UCL News


Britain's longest serving space science department celebrates 40th birthday

14 September 2007

Over 250 scientists and engineers will gather on Sunday 16 September to mark the fortieth anniversary of UCL's Mullard Space Science Laboratory, Britain's longest serving space science department.

Sir Patrick Moore will be among those attending the celebration, with public events starting at 2pm. Media representatives are welcome to attend.

UCL's Department of Physics was the pioneer of British space science when Sir Harrie Massie initiated the start of scientific space research in 1953, using rockets left redundant at the end of the Second World War. Later, the Rocket Group at UCL required space for expansion and Mullard Ltd provided the funds to purchase a Victorian mansion in the Surrey countryside. Twelve scientists and engineers moved from UCL to the Mullard Space Science Laboratory in those early days.

Since then, MSSL has contributed to over 250 rocket and satellite projects in collaboration with all the major space agencies around the world. Currently, MSSL is involved in missions which allow the study of distant galaxies as well as objects closer to home such as the Sun, and is also involved in the ongoing quest for life on Mars.

The event will include talks on current research taking place at the MSSL, and attendees will also have the opportunity to speak to some of the world's leading space scientists.

"As the UK's longest serving and largest university space group, UCL's Mullard Space Science Laboratory has made a vital contribution to international space science research over the last 40 years," says Professor Alan Smith of the MSSL. "By underpinning an excellent science programme with a strong technological capability we have gained the respect of all the major space agencies, industry, government and fellow academics. We look forward to a future full of exciting scientific discovery including the exploration of life elsewhere in the solar system, exploring the extreme-physics seen in astrophysical environments and understanding the formation and evolution of galaxies such as our own."

Notes for Editors

1. Journalists wishing to attend or seeking more information or images should contact Dominique Fourniol in the UCL media relations office on 0207 679 9728.